Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mason's First Day

So much has happened since my last post.....I had a mini vacation from chemo (changed schedules from Thursday to Tuesdays which afforded me Mason's first day of school, Labor Day Weekend and even a drink with ice in it because the side effect wore off enough). I loved my mini vacation, but on the 7th it was back to the grind. This treatment was a bit rough, but things are back to normal and I am up at 4:00am again. I have one more treatment now before my scan, but that is not why I am writing. I am writing about Mason. The last month has been nerve wracking for me. This kindergarten thing is not for the weak. There is "testing", there are supplies to be purchased that are quite specific, there are lunch boxes to be chosen, lunch items to be obtained, backpacks to be labeled, etc. I guess it was just really difficult for me because I have such a predetermined schedule that has about 72 people all going in the same direction taking care of, well, my "everything". Mason, Nolan, Grant, the yard, the house, the list goes on and on. So, the first day of school comes and we are ready - camcorder, camera, the entire family walking to school, the weather is perfect, Mason is STOKED, Nolan is confused and already missing his brother, and I am talking to Mason saying, "Okay, so you are going to meet your new teachers today. They are there for your education and your safety - listen to them - Okay? As long as they don't ask you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, you listen to them." Now, as you know, I have already "checked" these teachers out, I have been to the school, talked to everyone I know, done all that I can before I let go of his hand and give him over to the Kent Public School System. Did I cry? No. Did I panic? No. I thought I would do both. Now, remember Mason has been in daycare one to two days a week since he was 16 months old, and here is he funny part, when I dropped him off at daycare, I never called, I never worried, I never was concerned. Mason got hurt, I would sign the form. Teachers would have meetings with me about "goals" and I would say, "Can you teach him to love learning?" I didn't care about 1 to 100 or the alphabet. I just wanted him happy to be there. To have the opportunity to learn and be taught. I trusted them completely. Maybe it was because I understood how it worked after working for a "daycare". I knew how they counted, how they kept tract, all the things they looked for, and all they things they did. But this, this was different. Now, I was giving my walking, talking, smart, kind, amazing, little boy to a system where you throw your backpack by the outside door and go play in the school yard until the bell rings - HE IS FIVE! Okay, so fast forward, he does great. He has his backpack and lunchbox, he marches up to the teachers, shakes their hand (I am not kidding), introduces himself and sits where directed in the multi purpose room. Then, after getting all the kids, for lack of a better term tagged and branded, they took them to their classrooms. It was chaos, but he just followed, giving me a kiss on the way by. He marched into his classroom, found his desk, sat down and looked........comfortable...........relaxed..........thrilled.............ready and BIG. There are people everywhere. It is noisy and confusing (for the parents). I am taller than most of the people so I can see pretty much everything that is going on. Cameras, flash, a beautiful day, my boy in school, Nolan climbing on his Dad for any bit of attention, and then the realization that I am done here and there is nothing for me to do for Mason until 2:53 when I pick him up. I don't cry, I don't even want to. I am actually so proud just looking at him, seeing him, seeing his first day of school. Grant and I look at each other and exhale. Now, this all sounds like a nice story and all, but if you have been reading my blog for a while you know that there is a cancer, here is it. At 2:53, I picked Mason up. I have Nolan with me and Mason is thrilled. He is talking 200 words a minute telling me all about school and how great it is. There is again chaos, noise, kids everywhere, buses, children crying, lost, parents, etc, but it is all silenced by these words, "But Mommy, I wasn't allowed to eat my lunch. It was rejected. We don't make good food choices." I shake my head like I am trying to get the words out of it. I get them in the car and ask for Mason's lunch box. It was full. I am frantically thinking of what just happened as Mason tells me that he had to order an "Uncrustable" (which he doesn't like nor do I - do you know what are in those????), grapes, and chocolate milk. I think, well, maybe everyone gets lunch on the first day? No, that can't be. Oh well, maybe they missed the cheese in his lunch. Wait a minute, why are they looking at his lunch? There are lunch police? No one told me there were expectations about this and, WTF?!?!?!?!, we eat better than 90% of the population!!!" (My Mom and Grandma were WAY ahead of the curve with antibiotics, hormones, organic, etc. - in the 70s - however, I do have a weakness for fries...but I digress....) Now, lets remember, I have a fair amount of steroids in my system from the cancer treatment. I get home and I am stuck in this place of "they just didn't see" to "where was the lunch expectations memo" to "how is an Uncrustable a good food choice?" etc, and then I get the phone call from the school district with a recording of essentially, "YOU OWE US MONEY FOR LUNCH." REALLY. SERIOUSLY. Let's see, I provided a perfectly good lunch, you refused to let my son eat it, you ordered him a lunch which I would not consider a good food choice, and now I have to pay for it. OMG. So, who did I call? My Mom...yep, and the hell storm that came from that was earth moving. My Mom then emailed me all the nutritional data from my lunch and from the lunch provided, she advised me that I should go back to the school, throw the lunch on the table, and demand to know what is wrong with it and demand that I am not charged for the lunch that was ordered for me. Okay, so noted. So, then I call my friends with kids in school. NO ONE has heard of this and all say, "Ang, you gotta get this worked out...this is nuts...YOU? Bad food choices for your kids???" I am like, "I KNOW!" Then, my Mom calls back, and my Dad takes the phone..."Angie, you will take care of this. They were wrong. You will smile nicely, explain, and they don't have a leg to stand on. This will all get worked out. You know you provided a good lunch." And then it happened, I started sobbing. It was more than the lunch, it was Mason now questioning all of our dinner choices. It was him believing that he was doing something wrong and if you know him, he is the best eater bar none in the five year old category. He eats well and even tells me that he needs to stop eating junk food (which he considers popcorn). I KNOW! I cried off and on to the point that Grant said, "Ang, you gotta step back." I am thinking steroids, mixed with the lack of control of my life with cancer, mixed with a Mom's desire to provide food for her child. Yeah, that is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. The next morning I take Mason to school with a packed lunch and arrive a bit early. I take an anti anxiety pill as to not verbally vomit all over the teacher and knock on his classroom door and she comes. In perfect time, I explain what happened, she apologizes to me, but more importantly to Mason, and we agreed that we will differ to "Mason has a lunch". So, within 24 hours, I went from telling Mason to listen to his teachers, to telling them, "No thank you, I have my own lunch." I am out $20 because you can't pay the school district any less for school lunches, but oh well, and thinking to myself, you know, my Mom takes care of Mason every other week and God help you, if you "reject" her lunch! ;) Love, Ang


Charlene Waymire said...

You know - we had lunch issues on our first day/week too. Our issue was that "they didn't have time to eat". Bailey said they had about 10 minutes to eat the first day. Another little boy told his mom they had 4 minutes to eat. It did get better as the week went on, but I'm still not 100% satisfied with how much she is eating based on what comes back in her lunch bag.
Don't look at the $20 as lost. Look at it as a backup plan. Although we plan to send lunch every day, we sent money for her account. Just in case. In case we run out of time in the morning. In case she leaves her backpack at daycare or on the bus. Or just in case, she decides she wants to be like the other kids for a day. Does Kent have the "alternative lunch option"? Renton apparently has two options and the "alternative" option looks better than the main (yogurt, bagel, string cheese, etc). Still not 100% great, but more acceptable in my mind.
Sending lots of hugs my dear.

Kari George said...

So, what did the teacher say when you spoke with her? Was she the one who said Mason didn't have good food choices...or another teacher? Does Mason eat in the classroom or in the cafeteria??

You must know that you are an AWESOME mom and do more than everything to be there for your boys (and family for that matter)! I hear you about the kindergarten thing being hard 'cause it is! We've both left our complete comfort of daycare where we knew everyone that interacted with our child(ren) now not knowing the process of their day, let alone who interacts with them! OMG...we've taken a giant leap of faith that our children are being cared for the way that we would want them to! That's HUGE!...and it's hard (harder for us than for them, I'm sure). I guarantee that this will get easier as we learn the system and gain more trust in the system!

Sending you my love! Now go get some sleep!

Jill said...

OK - WTF?? Since when do they have lunch police making sure they have healthy lunches? And what did you give him? A Ding Dong and some Cheetos? Did Mason forget to bring his lunch with him or something? Or did they really say he couldn't eat his own food? I'm so confused. I've never heard of such a thing. But bottom line here - you are keeping us all in the dark. What did you pack for him??

Anonymous said...

Can't believe Mason's off to kindergarten! It seems like I was just welcoming that beautiful boy into my Threes class. Can't believe the insanity re: the whole lunch thing! I know you and I've seen Mason's lunches! If they said this about the lunch you packed, it's a good thing they've never seen mine! I continue to pray for you and for your beautiful family.
Much love,

Laurie said...

Clearly the Kent School District had no idea who they were dealing with! (And who doesn't have bumps during the first few days of Kindergarten? I remember Duncan (now in 5th) not being able to settle down and eat because it was the first time in his little life that he was having lunch away from home on a daily basis. And being a slow eater, 20 minutes just wasn't going to cut it. Oy.) You handled the situation beautifully, my dear. I would've flown in on my broom and caused a lot of carnage, but not you. :) Your method is much more effective.
Big hug to you!

Karen said...

I still contend you should send him in with a Mountain Dew, a bag of Doritos, and a Milky Way. I'm pretty sure that was not uncommon in Burien when we were kids.

Integrity Skin Care & Wellness said...

So whatever happened with Mason and the lunch issue? Have you had any further problems? Jim was PISSED when I told him your story. He said you should "Get Jessie" on the lunch Nazis! Sending you lots of love! ~Cassandra